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Women In Focus

This Woman Has Spent Seven Years Crafting a Wukchumni Dictionary

This short documentary tells the story of Marie Wilcox, part of the Wukchumni Native Americans residing the San Joaquin Valley in California. Marie is the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and this film documents her journey of the dictionary she created in an effort to keep her language alive. Today, more than 130 Native American languages are endangered, with several languages on the verge of extinction.

Marie grew up with her grandmother speaking their native language and then began to only speak English. She discovered her language again after having children and wanting to pass it on to them. She has spent seven years crafting the dictionary with help from her daughter and creating audio books and tribal stories with help from her grandson. Marie, at times had her doubts about the dictionary and continuing to speak her native language, as she felt that "no one seems to want to learn." However, Marie discovered a desire from her tribe to want to learn; more about their language and now Marie and her daughter teach weekly language classes. The film is a film festival award winner.

Directed by: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

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